I am on a journey to live a life I love and to fill my life with the things that truly bring me joy... my dream job, loving relationships, financial abundance, a healthy mind and body, and a deep spiritual connection with all that is. I am living consciously to create a life filled with all the things I love.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Staying True to Yourself

When you start to follow your passion, your dreams, and the things that excite you and bring you joy, you begin to discover a side of yourself that had been buried for many years. It is your true self, the person you may have been when you were younger, possibly back when you were a child, and have not been since.

Growing up, society, circumstances, and teachers around you taught you how to behave, what was acceptable, what was applauded, and what was frowned upon. Through this sort of "programming," we slowly became someone that others wanted us to become. Sure, we might have wanted to go down this path ourselves, but most of us picked the safe and more conventional route. A few of the bold and courageous ones dove for their dreams, knowing there was no safety net below. What's unfortunate about this situation is that even those that I knew that went for their dreams slowly saw their dreams fade and the need for financial security reined them into a "normal" 9 to 5 job. (These days it's probably more like 8-6 or more hours.)

The majority of us became one of the masses and although we tried to convince ourselves that our jobs were super-important and may have at some point felt like we were part of some huge project that was going to make a big difference. However, the result was always the same...we made a big difference for the company we were working for, or whoever our customers or clients were, and eventually the excitement there wears off until we feel like we're just part of the daily grind, going to work just for a paycheck. And if only there was a way out. Well, there is.

The choice is to go for the things that excite you, and spend some time reflecting on what it is that really makes you you. This is a difficult question for many to answer. For some it is easy-- they were born with their talent shining and their passion aligned with this talent too. But many of us have talents, but these areas are not necessarily things that excite us nor do we see ourselves turning these talents into a career. I played violin for 14 years, but not once did I consider that a career path even though my parents might have dreamed about it while I was growing up. And, I was immersed in the fine arts since I was 7, but somehow oil painting did not necessarily spark my passion much either.

The difficult question for many of us to answer is where do my talents and passion intersect? This was a difficult question for me to answer, even with years of soul searching, and I'm not even convinced I have found it yet. But each day I make a commitment to doing the things that bring me the most happiness and joy, whether it is cleaning my home so that I can have the ultimate relief of seeing a clean space, or reading that book that I really wanted to get through. Little by little, the things that we have passion for emerge because we will have been doing these things anyway, even without getting paid to do them.

I read books and magazines about certain topics because they interest me. I watch videos to learn things that I am interested in. I spend my time with certain hobbies that I know are not going to really be a part of my career, but I do them anyway because I have finally given myself permission to do things for fun and not just for work. Through this process I know I am discovering who I really am...who I've always been.

You've heard the phrases before:
"Stay true to yourself."
"Follow your bliss."
"Do what you love and you won't work a day in your life."

This is true, and I'm beginning to discover the depth of what these phrases mean. No matter what my financial situation is at this point, I've decided to dedicate my time, energy, and thoughts toward doing the things that make me happy, and making the time to do those things. Yes, we need to pay our bills and make money, but what's more important in our lives is to listen to our soul and follow our hearts. The money will follow. I have faith, and I am moving forward.

The hardest part is figuring out what exactly our careers will look like in the future. I've decided to just move forward with the things I've decided thus far and use my heart as a guide for every step I take. If I am excited about this work, then I'll do more of it. If I find myself dreading it, chances are that it's not the right path, so I'm going to try something else that feels right. And I've also decided not to let money influence my decision.

I've been guilty in the past of thinking about what business would be lucrative with the skills I have first rather than thinking of my passion first. Or, I would think of a skill that I have learned where I can do work that will help others, and I know it will be noble work since I am "helping people," but my heart's not really into it. I've learned that both ways are not the way to go. How can you make a living doing something you feel like you "have to do" for money, or you "should do" to help people? Where are you in the equation?

It may sound a bit selfish at first, but we must absolutely put our own passions first. By following our heart, we are able to achieve something even greater than we imagined, just by becoming our best self. The opportunities will appear at the right time, when we are ready.

So, for now, I'm going to take it day by day and do the things that really make me happy. If I want to learn how to make banana bread, that's what I'll do. If I want to learn how to golf, I'll find time to make it to the driving range. If I want to learn how to garden, I'm going to do that too. It doesn't matter that I live in a concrete jungle, I'll make my garden indoors. There's always a way to do what you want, but it is imperative that you give yourself permission to do the things you want. As simple as these things seem, they are the things that make your soul sing. These are things you always wanted to do but never gave yourself permission. And each thing will draw you down a path towards your happiness. Now is the time. No more excuses. Be who you are, not what anyone else wants you to be. And listen to your heart. You'll find that it speaks to you if you will find some quiet time to listen.

And if your heart says, quit your job, move to a different city, change your career, and go back to school, you might find yourself in a position similar to me. I'm learning to let go of the things that no longer serve me and let go of the things I used to value a lot in my old way of thinking (like money). I am, in many ways, shedding the old me to find who I truly was all along, bright and shining underneath, a creative and happy soul. If only I had let myself free sooner... but I am so glad I have decided to move on and follow my bliss. :)

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